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Summer and Bird
on November 12, 2012
I just emailed my DIL to order three copies of SUMMER AND BIRD for my pre-teen granddaughters and send the bill to me. This is a very good book - thoughtful and serious, yet fanciful enough to appeal to young readers. On the outside, it's a lyrical story of two sisters, Summer and Bird, who set out to find their parents after they mysteriously disappeared from their home in the dead of night. On the inside, it's the story of a family's disintegration, but with a sweet, not a bitter or sad ending. That ending is foreshadowed by an early reference to a verse in the King James version of Genesis: "I will not let thee go except thou bless me."
I believe Katherine Catmull's rich and fluid prose will appeal to a broader audience than was originally intended. Parents will appreciate her familiarity with Kafka, Keats and Blake, as well as the challenging vocabulary she sets before their children - words like "cerulean," "nexus," "hieroglyphic," and "balustrade." And who cannot appreciate a well-turned phrase - "a rushing sound beneath the quiet," "a white wing edged with rippling sable," or "an appetite opened wide as a hatchling's beak."
As an aside, when I first glimpsed the title I read it to be "Summer Bird," and I half expected a story about the famous racehorse of that same name, winner of the 2009 Belmont Stakes, and now retired to stud at Winstar Farm in Kentucky. But alas, the story of that famous racehorse family - Storm Bird, Dear Birdie, Birdstone, and Mine That Bird - will have to wait. Who to better write it than Katherine Catmull?